Monday, November 19, 2012

Superman: Lost Son

It has been too long since I have last posted on here. As it turned out, I completed my college career and I am now independently working on projects that I tried to work on during school, but either didn't have the time, resources, or energy. Now that school is done, I have more time to write again. Here is a taste of a project that I am happy to report I have been working hard on. Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How to Approach a Superman Video Game

As one of the biggest fans of Superman comics, films, TV and Cartoon Shows alike, I have been dreaming like so many other people in the world of a way to live as Superman in a virtual world. You would assume that with today's technology and today's latest creative edge going to much of the video game industry as well as television, that creating a video game based off of one of DC Comics' most treasured Superheroes would be in the works. Well, Rocksteady Studios already made two award-worthy games: Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Batman: Arkham City.

What Rocksteady Studios managed to do was not only combine great game mechanics as far as hand-to-hand combat, stealth, gadgetry, mobility, and puzzles, but also managed to create an intricately weaved storyline with multitudes of depth and great overall voice acting talent. The art direction was superb as the underbelly of Gotham's dirtiest criminals came alive in their own element. In Batman: Arkham Asylum we get a first hand account of inside the devil's den, an all out circus filled with Batman's A-list offenders. Although the story didn't reveal too many villains to encounter, Batman: Arkham City surely made up for that as Batman himself took to the streets to battle even more of his arch-nemeses in a world rich with detail, depravity and intrigue.

So what does Batman have to do with Superman? Well I feel that Rocksteady Studios did such a fantastic job re-creating a day in the life of Batman, that it would take nearly the same amount of effort and attention to detail to create such an immersive experience as to play a game featuring The Man of Steel. By simply exploring the game itself and the environment such as Arkham City, you know that each architecture piece or set piece was meticulously crafted to tell each and every story imaginable.
In order for this to happen to a city such as say Metropolis, one has to look at the style and architecture differences between the two cities. Gotham in general is an older city, but a grittier city and a lot of it's buildings are rustic and old looking. There is grime and grit and you would expect such trash and debris to liter the grounds as much as it did in Arkham City. Metropolis has many names and it often goes by "The City of Tomorrow". The buildings are far more developed for less of a lower-urban locale and was established as a monument to one of man's greatest achievements: Progress. The buildings will be tall and grand, and the metals to be a bit worn with age, but still pristine to show the city's namesake. You can tell which buildings will be older by their more than noticeable architecture style.

Understanding Metropolis as a character herself will be important to build a world where Superman can flourish. Superman takes to the skies and oversees the great megalith-bound city and all of it's many inhabitants. To build a city worthy of such an act in a game would be crucial. There were countless times when I just grappled to a gargoyle and crouched as iconic as Batman, just to do it. Looking at the world through his eyes is what made the experience for me.

Next you have a map where the player can see the entire city and spot out major iconic locations where parts of the story has had its fix there. Such locales include, "The Daily Planet" and "Star Labs" not to mention, "Clark's Apartment", "Lois Lane's Apartment" and "Stryker's Island" name a few. Using a map in an open world game is useful for many reasons. For instance, if Clark hears of a building burning down, or some thugs are knocking off a bank or something, the player can look to the map and set a point on the map where he needs to get to. From there, Superman can take to the skies and quickly see via the world where he managed to highlight his destination. Now depending on importance or ability upgrades, will depend on how fast he gets there. One can simply fly in a split of a second to the exact location, or the player can manage to fly there "manually" to feel more like the Man of Steel. I will get back to powers/abilities a bit later.

The flight mechanics have to be reasonable, much like how Batman's glide ability worked so well. Visually capes aren't a problem anymore in games and to see Superman fly with his iconic red cape flaying in the wind behind him, or to see it react when he lands abruptly on the ground will be quite a sight. Flying should be in any case easy to do with the thumb sticks where the left controls where he flies and the right if held down will send the player into bullet-like speeds.

I understand that narrowing down Superman's abilities in a way that can be brought into a gaming world is quite a task. Superman, unlike many of his fellow heroes, has almost an unlimited list of powers and attributes. He has flight, strength, different types of vision, intellect, super-breath, near-invulnerability, speed, etc. Giving a player the right to be a God from the get go might not seem like the best way to approach Superman's gifts. I also have considered taking his powers away and letting the player experience and earn Superman's abilities over time. That may not be the same thing as well, considering that Superman always has his abilities, he is always Superman. I guess you can bring in some red-sun generating machine that wipes Superman of his powers and allows him to get through the tutorials with the player, but what I was thinking was a much different approach.

Like I had said previously that playing Batman: Arkham City is like being Batman for a day. You literally step into the cape and cowl and you are on the job from the get go. You have to think what it's like to be Superman on a daily basis. Of course there is going to be the occasional story-bound bad guy or villain, but in the every day circumstances of his job as a hero, Superman has to face every day challenges. Superman is a living breathing God amongst humans. He has to be able to control his powers so that he can not destroy literally everything in his path.

Take a burning building for instance: There is a building about to collapse and there are people still trapped high above the streets within this burning structure. 1) You fly over to the site where fire trucks and such are trying but failing to do their jobs. (Perfect job for...) 2) you pick up people screaming with your precise super-hearing, and then you scan the building with your X-Ray vision. 3) you find an entry point, but you can't fly too fast to land or the bottom will cave and will kill anybody who is underneath. 4) You hover and land gently with the thumb sticks, and you quickly want to use your super-breath to blow the fire out. 5) You can't blow the fire out because blowing the fire out might make the support beams too unstable and will collapse the roof above. 6) you decide to use your ice-breath to add support to the beams, and settle the fire long enough to get the people out safe. 7) You freeze breath a pathway on the wooden floor so people can have a walkway to get to the exit. 8) You start to clear people out, but you notice that the exit structure is going to collapse. You make a last minute decision to brace and hold the structure up so you can make sure the last person is out safe. 9) Once you use your X-ray vision to see that there is nobody left, you release the structure, and you saved the day.

With these kinds of decisions that the player has to make, they can use Superman's abilities in different ways to solve how he can save the people he is trying to save at the moment. This allows a number of outcomes based on the player's decisions and the crisis at hand. When Superman has to deal with inner-city problems, these kinds of challenges are to happen. I also don't want to just limit Superman to the ground, as it were. To allow the player to feel more free as The Last Son of Krypton, Air challenges can come about, and what other way to better demonstrate his flight and strength, not to mention the player's keen smarts is to save an airliner from plummeting to the earth or into the ocean....more on that later.


How to organize Superman's powers into manageable tools for gameplay: I would first assume that the player can toggle between different attributes on the D-Pad. I would also split his major qualities into 4 select-able tools: 1) Heat/Laser vision 2) Super Breath 3) Freeze Breath 4) Super Speed(on ground)

When Heat Vision is selected (1) left trigger can aim, and right trigger can execute laser blast. Same goes for items 2 and 3. Super Speed can be selected and used whenever the "A" button is pressed. Press it once and select a direction on the left thumb stick and Superman will execute a quick-dash type of movement. This will also be available in the air as well. Hold down the move button and keep it held will start Superman into a run and then the longer you hold it, the faster he will gradually get. Ease off the button and he will slow down. (This attribute can only work on the ground or on a surface) Each ability will have a strength meter which gauges how much of each power a player is using according to the world around them. For example: Super Breath. If Superman has to use his breath to ward off a hostile incoming tsunami from hitting the big city due to Weather Wizard's weather machine, the player can activate the Super Breath and hold it down to create a strong enough gust of wind to blow the Tsunami right back into the ocean. This power level will not be right to use if he were to blow missiles back from oncoming helicopters or put out a fire. So initially, the player has to regulate how powerfully Superman can use his main powers. (Again it goes back to "What would it be like for Superman?")

His multitude of vision abilities will be put into the left bumper on the controller. Much like Batman's "Detective Mode" Superman will be able to toggle between X-Ray Vision, and other modes of infrared and color spectrums that are built into his array of powers. This would be handy if the player needed to find bombs that were hidden, enemies that are around a corner, unseen victims, or certain signals that are being transmitted around Metropolis.


Now what worked for the Batman titles was having a compelling story and not to mention great voice actors. Tim Conroy and Mark Hamill were great as their legendary roles, and the rest of the voice actors were spot on as well(I thought the Penguin and Mr Freeze were awesome). The reason for such a great story is because they brought in none other than Paul Dini, the creative genius behind Batman: The Animated Series we all loved in the 90s. If there was ever a person to pen the story of Batman's all time game iterations it was him. As a fellow writer I can appreciate the level of depth that he brings to his characters and stories. I never missed an episode and the villains and situations that the characters on the show found themselves in felt more real than anything I had ever seen in a cartoon show. To me it was like watching a TV show, not a cartoon show. To honor the great work that was done both by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, I would bring back Tim Daly as the voice of Superman/Clark Kent, Dana Delany as Lois Lane, Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, and of course Michael Ironside as Darkseid.

The story for Superman has to have all the same refinements and attention to character development as any other well thought out game plan. Superman can't ALWAYS be putting out fires or battling tornadoes or bank robbers. There has to be a thread of plots that weave through points of major action to excite and inform the player. Now I know what you're thinking....have I thought about writing a Superman story??? And the answer is a big fat DUH. I have had plenty of nights dreaming of a world where a man in blue and red tights and a red cape flies around saving the day. The approach I had settled on eventually was a story that starts with Jor-El and ends with Kal-El. In a nutshell, I had crafted a way to introduce Zod, Brainiac, and start the path of Superman's ultimate feel that what he does with his powers is eventually the right thing to do. Did his father have an ultimate plan for his son? Now here is where I go a bit into my own world of storytelling...

First of all, I believe in the three-act structure for storytelling, and of course you have to leave things a bit non-linear for gamers to get out a bit of the storyline and stretch their legs a bit. I also tend to pull from the source material for inspiration. There was one particular comic series that really spoke to me, "Superman: Birthright". Written by Mark Waid and drawn by Leinil Francis Yu, Superman: Birthright was meant to bring Superman into the NOW and they had created one of the best comic origins that I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

The comic explores issues such as how his family (Ma and Pa) felt about him being a hero, and his first assignment as a journalist in West Africa during a bloody tribal dispute. Clark uses his abilities to get to the bottom of political aggressions while promising to protect an activist and his family. I thought this was a great way to help Clark have a place where he could go "undercover" and really feel out his powers, but it was also a move to help him get a job at the Daily Planet.

Now as a big Superman fan I feel it is necessary for Clark Kent to be as important as Superman himself. Clark is the identity that Superman has made for himself while being on Earth. I feel that in a game the player can have the ability to change from Clark to Superman at will. I compare it to the game Transformers: War for Cybertron. One of the coolest parts about that game is that the player had control over when a Transformer would transform. I see this game no differently. If you are somewhere as Clark and you need to change into Superman, you can do that. If you need to go somewhere as Clark, you as Superman would need a "safe zone" where a hidden pre-packed suitcase with Clark's items would be stored(In my mind, if I were Superman, I would hide sets of clothes all throughout Metropolis just in case I would need to change and fall back under my alter ego). These locations would be layed out for the player in the mini-map for convenience.

Another aspect of the story would be incorporating villains into the mix to challenge Superman. First of all it is probably a well known fact that most us wouldn't know a list as extensive as Batman's Rogues Gallery for Superman's villains. I think that most of us would probably stop at Lex Luthor. But there are quite a few that get some real bashing time with The Man of Steel. Brainiac, Darkseid, and Doomsday are my top 3 choices to be game changer bad guys for Superman. These three villainous characters offer challenges that are not easily defeat-able. Brainiac, a super-computer created on Krypton hellbent on destroying the Universe as we know it challenges Superman's wits and keen intellect. Darkseid, a war-mongering tyrant from an alien war-based world, Apokolips challenges everything Superman stands for as a hero, and Doomsday, the mega powerful Alien lab experiment with the destructive force of a hundred nuclear bombs and a thirst for blood challenges Superman's physicality and ulitmately leads to his death on Earth.
Then you have other villains that populate Metropolis. Lex Luthor for one is the top dog. Taking over the portrayal of a land tycoon obsessed with real estate and wealth and power, and replacing it with a cold, emotionless powerful business man and founder of Lex Corps. (Thank you Paul Dini). Not only has Lex managed to start one of the biggest military business operations,(second only to Wayne Tech)but he did it legitimately(as far as we know) and has gone to fund much of Metropolis's building contracts and has developed parts of Metropolis herself. Most of what Lex Luthor does is cloak and dagger, and within the shadowy confines of his company. His tall looming towers are symbols of a man who has amassed great wealth and power and stands up to oppose Superman in the public view.

I would also bring in Metallo, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Bizarro, (mention)General Zod, Professor Hamilton(S.T.A.R. Labs), Mongul, Parasite, Weather Wizard, Kalibak,Livewire, Lobo, The Toy Maker, etc. These are lesser on the threat level, but still hold challenges for Superman.
Next I would populate the city with thugs, goons, and the occasional military faction or two to test Superman and the player. So not only do we have natural disasters, but actual villains that run a muck as well and gangs of thugs and bruisers to come in and wreak havok in Metropolis.

Now it must be puzzling to think how these events will unfold. I would introduce a villain from the major list to help drive the story and get the player to the final end or boss battle as it were. Bringing in too many villains would just muck up the story. The reason why Batman: Arkham Asylum worked was because of The Joker. There were other villains that posed as threats to Batman, but The Joker was always there leading Batman around with cheese through the maze. The reason Batman: Arkham City worked was again there was a central villain guiding the hero's actions. In this case it was Hugo Strange.

So which villain is it going to be? I would start by doing a parallel story arch with Darkseid. The way he is set up is that you have to bring the threat down on a major level. The reason Batman was so easily lead around by the Joker is that Batman himself is a detective. A detective is only as good as the crimes he is investigating. In an open world environment, the game designers want the player to seek out everything in the world. The player has to be there. The side missions were just the cherry on top when it came to this one simple rule: Keep the player interested. With Superman, everything has to have a bigger scale of threats for the player to really feel they are doing their job. So having madmen who rig parts of the city to explode with bombs deep underground, and having Superman use his X-Ray Vision or hearing to detect and defuse the bombs in time would be fun, or to try and find escaped villains from Stryker's Maximum Security Prison, would be a cool side mission. Not to mention setting up Professor Hamilton's ultimate fall to villainy after being long time friends with Superman.


Darkseid is a formidable opponent for Superman. Lets take a closer look at Darkseid and see how he can pose a major threat and push along a major storyline for a game.

As we may or may not all know by now, Darkseid was an heir to a throne deep, within the darkest recesses of space on a war-torn world known as Apocolips. On Apokolips, Darkseid reigns as supreme ruler having had his sons and mother banished from their homeworld. He conquered and killed his brother who in turn was responsible for manipulating Darkseid's skin into a rock-like surface. As his rage and hunger for power grew, Darkseid managed to seek a device called, " The Anti-Life Equation" where if posessed would bring its user ultimate control and influence over all sentient beings in the Universe...Darkseid would become a God and rule over all of the Cosmos. As it turns out in order to allow his master plan to continue, he creates swarms of alien soldiers to carry out his bidding across the galaxies. Earth became a well known target for Darkseid over the years and low and behold had encountered Superman on numerous occasions. Darkseid's physical prowess is almost as powerful as Superman and his mental capacity for an never-ending bloodlust for war and chaos makes him a foe not to be reckoned with. Using Apokolips technology transplanted deep within sections of Metropolis, Darkseid had managed to create a powerful standing on Earth without even being there called, "Intergang". Intergang is a group of highly loyal constituents who use their technologies to do a lot of evil in Metropolis. Later on they become a cult that ultimately worships Darkseid and plans to bring him to Earth to mold Earth into a planet much like Apokolips.

In a potential story with Darkseid being the major threat, Intergang will have to play a pivotal roll in the enemy challenges for Superman. At first we start to introduce the existence of Intergang gradually as more and more events unfold. As Superman notices the alien tech being used by Intergang, he becomes suspicious of their whereabouts. Later on you see more and more outlandish acts being committed by this terror organization. Their technology gets more and more funded until eventually Superman has no choice but to investigate further. The more Intergang members Superman locks away, the more they talk about the coming of their "Master" and how Superman will not be able to stop him from creating "The new Apokolips" on Earth. As soon as Superman hears "Apokolips", he heads out to his Fortress of Solitude(Yes its going to be in there)and proceeds to ask his "Father" data crystal array for all known knowledge of Apokolips. There Jor-El tells his son that the data he is requesting was not included in the original crystal given to him in his vessel he arrived in as a child(The green one that made the Fortress of Solitude in the films). As it turned out, there was a hidden data crystal that was taken directly from Krypton's archives. Jor-El had hidden it in fear that his ship and his son would be found by General Zod(Leader of the Kryptonian Security Council)who was actually manipulating the Kryptonian council which condemned the planet Krypton to its eventual demise. The hidden crystal was stored within the vessel itself and in order to access it and all its data, the Kryptonian ship has to be active. In order for the ship's onboard crystal array to be activated, the star drive must be in space. The vessel as it is now does not work within Earth's atmospheres due to the crash landing it experienced when it first arrived.
So, Superman must take the vessel out of Earth's atmospheres and venture into space in order for the crystal array to work properly.

This will allow a change in decor for the game and us as fans get to see Superman AND his Kryptonian ship out in space. (Nerd-gasm!!!)

Moving right soon as Superman gets the data needed, he uploads it to the crystal array back in the Fortress and descends back to Earth. Having the ship work again Superman makes a home for it within the Fortress of Solitude and there he can learn all the Data he was missing. Among that data were mentions of an evil Super-Computer named Brainiac, Apokolips and the first known record of Darkseid, and General Zod and the Phantom Zone.

Now as Superman gets closer and closer to ridding the city of these sycophantic terrorsts from Intergang, he discovers a plot linked to...S.T.A.R. Labs? Apparently there were traces of Apokolips technology within S.T.A.R. Labs and was being used to generate a reverse-Phantom Zone like device to pull people out of trapped dimensions. Originally built for Superman years ealier to try and communicate with his fallen parents. The device was created by Professor Hamilton. Although it didn't work properly, Hamilton made several adjustments to it along the years. As a trusted friend and colleague of Superman, Hamilton had spent years doing research for The Man of Steel but never recieved any credit or payment. His experiments hardly worked, but Professor Hamilton managed to collect quite a lot of information on Superman. It wasn't until the B13 event and the ultimate sacrifice of Hamilton's professional career that lead him to mentally unravel and blame Superman for his misfortunes. Hamilton disappeared and was never seen or heard from again.
When Superman goes to S.T.A.R. Labs he finds not only Apokolips technolgy--modified for a pull from an inter-stellar travel point(Apokolips)but encounters a mysterious figure...named "Ruin". Is this masked man responsible for the Intergang attacks? Does Ruin know the whereabouts of Professor Hamilton? Why go to S.T.A.R. Labs? Why occupy Hamilton's old lab?.....

Well, as it turns out, S.T.A.R. Labs was nothing more than a failed attempt by Intergang. But what is revealed by "Ruin" is that Darkseid is coming to Earth, and the portal with the working technology is somewhere in Metropolis...time is running out.

Lex Luthor
While all this is unfolding, Lex Luthor is brought into the mix by starting his campaign as the next President of the United States. This infuriates Superman because of the past dealings that has been had between the two. Lex has claimed to be turning over a new leaf and with his generous donations to the city's infrastructure, Lex is well on his way to winning the votes in Metropolis. Lex's plan is to simply do one thing, but is really doing another. For example, his company has been sending generous amounts of funds to build up the city's Police Dept. and Prison facilities. In actuality, he is sending better weapons and tech to criminal organizations so that it would appear that he is helping the city rid of criminals, but really, he is helping them by giving them better ways to break the law. In this instance Lex has turned to arms dealing as a way to help fund his Presidential campaign.
As more and more criminals get outfitted with LexCorps tech, Superman now has to deal with the escalation problem. He knows Lex is up to no good, and he needs to stop him at any costs. The tricky part is trying to stop the weapons supplies going out to criminals. He has to then try and locate and destroy wherever those crates are being stored. Well Lex understanding that Superman can't see through lead, has managed to hide all his weapons caches in lead-based storage crates in Metropolis Harbor. Since Superman can't see which crate contains what, he has to look inside each one or at least find a manifesto with credible evidence linking LexCorps to underground arms dealings. This looks like a job for....Clark Kent?

Since the crates are there "legally" and Superman has promised the US Government he won't use his powers for his own purposes, plus he doesn't want to tip off Lex Luthor or anybody involved, the player now has the ability to play as Clark. Using his press connections, and knowing that a large shipment of priceless artifacts from West Africa (see what I did there? If confused, see above sections about West Africa), which are to premiere in the Metropolis Natural History Museum. Surely there is going to be press there and obviously Lex will be using the artifacts as cover for his weapons caches. Alongside the Mayor who will be cutting the ribbon to the famed exhibit (one exhibit being from Addis Ababa) will be none other than Lex Luthor himself who is receiving aide from the Mayor for his Presidential Campaign; whom Lex promised to make his running mate if he gets chosen.

So Clark needs to find "missing" crates he couldn't find at the docks, at the museum. If he can find the shipping manifesto with the matching numbers, he will have enough evidence to allow the US Government and the business bureau to investigate Lex and LexCorps. Now it would seem unfair to include Clark in on the museum opening and not have Lois and at least Jimmy there taking press photos.

The stage is set. Lex Luthor and the Mayor unveiling a rare and never-before-seen exhibit from Africa, which includes a shipment from Addis Ababa which we all know contains Kryptonite. As Clark finally discovers the crates after roaming the museum for a while, he manages to find the manifesto. On the other hand, a group of heavily armed military personnel arrive to come and steal the precious gems and such from the exhibit. In actuality, Lex Luthor planned everything. By playing innocent to the crime about to be committed, his name is cleared by the public. Behind the scenes, the thugs work for him and are there to make a switch with the other weapons crates. The icing on Lex's cake is that Superman will be arriving shortly. Lois Lane is among the press and wherever there's trouble, Superman will not be far. By now Clark hears all the commotion and has found a place to change into Superman. He then sneaks out another way and makes his triumphant entrance into the museum.
Superman confronts the militants and demands them to let the people go and no one else will get hurt. The military personnel oblige and release the people from the museum. Now, Superman can quickly do away with these guys, except.....what do they have in a lead box? Can it be? Kryptonite. The last one to leave is Lex. He simply walks out of the room , and mutters under his breath..."kill him".

Struggling to find his footing, Superman hears Lex and decides to make a dash to fight for his life. In my story Kryptonite weakens and eventually kills Superman the longer he is exposed to it. For the fight to last with these thugs, Superman has to act on his feet and defend himself. The short time he has been exposed to the radioactive pieces of his homeworld has managed to weaken him to the extent of a mere mortal. He is not dying, but is going to feel every brutal punch and every brutal attack.

So here we have the player who not only gets to change from Clark to Superman, manage to get into a scuffle with a major military faction and now has to fight his way to survive. This is now adding a certain game experience that no player has really had the option of ever playing: Superman vs human enemies in a fist fight. We finally get to see Superman get his butt kicked a little, and as Superman fans we get to see him be the hero and go toe to toe with thugs at a very weakened state. This in turn makes Superman appear to be more heroic. That was my major complaint in a lot of Superman lore. Kryptonite was such a device like a light switch for Superman. No matter the amount of Kryptonite or the prolonged exposure, Superman as soon as he knew it was there, became instantly if his abilities were shut off like a light switch. In this case, the small amount found at the museum was enough to weaken him, but not completely inhibit his motor skills or completely take him out of commission.

Lex Luthor as a character has his own motives. Of course he wants to destroy Superman, but Lex is no random bad guy or evil scientist. Despite his origins Lex was revamped back in the 90s as sort of a crafty and devious business man. This makes sense as Superman's opposition because Superman is literally powerful beyond belief and has no real need for money, whereas Lex is a very wealthy powerful man who has made a life throwing money around as a way of displaying his prowess both in the business world and in the real world.
With Lex turning his attentions to the campaign trail, he is bent on making a world that exists where Superman is not needed. He has spent so many years and so many dollars trying to thwart The Man of Steel, but his ploy now is to do it in a way that would make Superman hurt the most. Understanding part of Superman's psyche where he greatly desires to shake his "alien" persona and heritage. In a way Superman wants to know about where he comes from, but he never wants that knowledge to influence how his life is or how he sees himself. Clark wants to be human so much that he literally created a way for him to be among his peers without feeling like an outsider. The funny thing about it, is that no matter how Clark or Superman acts, he will always be different. Superman has to find a way to feel normal in his own skin. Most of us humans always dream to be super powerful and a hero, but Superman wants more than anything to be human.

Supporting Cast

Another great asset to a good story is the supporting cast. Not having interactions with Lois Lane or Jimmy Olsen would be a crime. Being able to explore a rich world such as the one painted so well over numerous years as Superman should give some development time for the characters in the classic story to age and feel real and to grow. Lois Lane is not only a fast talking female reporter, she's a woman who is in a place where she has a lot of freedom to be a strong independent woman. She has a sort of leadership role over Jimmy and sometimes even Clark. She can hold her ground and she allows her wits and her charm to get her into places that most reporters get access to...which often times leads to Superman often times getting her out of scraps. To me personally, Lois's character compared to Superman's is that she reminds me of a that one particular girlfriend who is dating the football star. She knows her boyfriend can clean up any mess her busy wordy mouth can get her into. She's afraid of very little, and that's part of the appeal for Clark. Clark sees her as this superhuman among humans in her desire for greatness and her way to not show fear. Clark likes that because he feels that he can really be himself without his Superman persona getting in the way.
Jimmy Olsen in my mind is a valuable asset to the daily Planet team, as it were. He takes the photos, but he also manages the website for the Daily Planet. Jimmy should be tech savvy like much of the young people his age would be in this modern era. He is a bit of a minor character compared to the big hitters, and what Jimmy wants by now is to be a real journalist. Taking photos was never his real plan but it got him in a door that most people would avoid. Jimmy Olsen wants to get his career off the ground, and wants to be taken seriously as a photojournalist. I feel in this type of storytelling it is a good thing to show character growth. Whether in a film medium or a video game, richer characters even if they are minor, if shown that they have grown over time, will be better characters and in turn will help make the overall product better.
Perry White is still the Editor and Chief of The Daily Planet but he is shifting into a time where retirement looks closer and closer. With the events that unfold within all these events, his main concern is his work. A classic workaholic, Perry is a man who has learned to care for Lois and Clark, and his entire staff. Although L and C are his tag team of reporters, he always manages to pull the best journalism out of both of them. He remains a solid piece of Americana that will stand true,even in the face of real threat.


The long lasting relationship between Lois and Clark has lasted longer than most marriages. I don't necessarily want to push them towards any notion of marriage just yet, but ideally, her actions must fuel his actions in some sort of way that can put Superman or even Clark in a place of real emotion. That is why I have in my little slice of the Superman pie the two are openly dating. She knows Clark is Superman and Lois has promised to keep his secret. This is integral in their story as lovers and characters. Things begin to feel more real and more at risk when Lois knows that Clark is Superman. Clark must be stronger now more than ever for Lois as well. Pulling them into everyday challenges as a couple is new ground that can be greatly explored. Lois has a real hard time accepting that her boyfriend has the world's most dangerous jobs and that even in the back of her mind his job will always win. For Clark, no matter what he does as Superman, he is always thinking of Lois and how he has to manage to come back to her night after night, facing some of the greatest challenges a hero has to face. It is the fact that their love transcends all of those challenges is the reason why they work so well together. They never truly let those outside forces dictate where their relationship is going to go. Even in the face of an alien invasion from the planet Apokolips, Lois knows that Clark has to do what he must do to make sure there is still a planet and a girlfriend even to come home to.


So in the wake of Metropolis's most tested and darkest moments, a man...a man of steel comes to her rescue. Superman has withstood the test of time solely because of his ideals, what he stands for, and his ability to be the hero that all other heroes want to be. I am sure with great thought and execution there will be a great Superman story to be told within the medium of digital storytelling. As a major fan of the big guy in blue, I have felt that this article was necessary not just for me to write, but for the thousands of fans out there who, like me, have felt that Superman has gone without a great game to be played. With countless attempts over the years it is clear as to see why it would be so difficult, but sometimes we have to look beyond whats on the surface and dig deep to get what we want. If Superman: The Man of Steel ever turns out to be good, then I am sure the fans will have another way to adore and look up to Earth's Greatest Protector, a man we all know as Superman.

If you want to contact me about this article or find out more about what I have in mind for our Man of Steel, please feel free to contact me at:, or if you enjoyed this article feel free to comment below or check out my other blog,

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gods of Rock

Being a creative mind such as myself I like to keep my hands full of projects to occupy my mind. There is the Western I am ALWAYS thinking about, and I feel I will have much to work out with that one. My mind however never stops working and I have managed to think of other stories I want to work on. One being a project titled, "Gods of Rock".

I am a huge fan of mythology and history and I absolutely love music, so I came up with an idea to write a rock opera musical with hints of action and comedy. I particularly like to listen to 80's rock bands and the like, and I enjoy Greek Myths so I decided to combine the two in a way that would seem fresh enough and funny. I am also a fan of all the animated movies that are coming out as of late so I decided to pitch this idea as an animated film. That way, I could work on the look and style of the film as well as keeping it entertaining as far as how characters look and act.

So long story short, "Gods of Rock" is about three best friends who work at a tavern at the base of Mount Olympus. Their town is sort of one of those towns who are only known because they are next to something famous. I look at it as a town on the way to Vegas who's known for their "Giant Thermometer".

These 3 guys have been best friends since they were kids and their biggest dream was to start a band and be famous for their music. Well as the fates would have it, they grow up and end up working a dead end job, which in turn only fuels their fire to become famous musicians.

The Mayor of the town decides to hold a festival and contest honoring the Gods and this year's theme is music. (how appropriate) So you basically have an ancient Greek version of battle of the bands. The winners of the contest will get to tour all the hot spots of Greece and the ancient world, performing as they go along, they will even have ancient Greek groupies, a press agent, and if they play their cards right, might even get rich off merchandising.

The only problem with the 3 best friends is that their hearts are int he right place, but they haven't found their true sound yet for their band. night they are working late at the tavern, and they witness first hand of a battle between Zeus and the Titans of old over the control of Mount Olympus. The 3 are so inspired by what they witnessed they stay up all night and write a song depicting Zeus and his epic conflict with the Titans. They now have their entry into the battle of the bands.

They get to perform their "experimental" music piece in the contest, and low and behold, they win the contest. They instantly become famous and before they go on tour, they get a message from Hermes, the messenger of the Gods, inviting them to Zeus's official coronation on Mount Olympus. So they go up on the mountain and perform their song in honor of Zeus and the "New Gods". Zeus has defeated the Titans and banished them to a prison deep within the underworld under the watch of his brother, Hades.

Zeus loves the song so much, he makes the 3 official Gods on Mount Olympus, hence the "Gods of Rock" are born. This is the part of the story where they go from garage band to rock stars. They meet all the other Gods on Mount Olympus, and the other Gods I have written to have very quirky personalities and yet still within the realm of what people expect to see of them. That's where the comedy comes in and shenanigans ensue....

Stay tuned for more to come.....(very soon, I promise)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Researching topics

I like most writers am always looking for new topics to learn and explore. What this does for my creative process is it allows me to imagine all kinds of new material for my writing. In the case of science and everything in that category, the more research one does, the better the material is going to be.

Research alone can take a long time and often times a writer can get stuck in that phase of the creative process. It is hard to find a way out from doing a lot of research, especially for me because I love to learn new and interesting topics. If anything you as a writer should limit yourself at first to what you really need for your project. Narrowing down a search is a good way to keep the research to a minimum. When it comes to genres or story types, it is also a good thing to keep it somewhat brief at first, then go back and do more research if you have to. Being buried under all that tedious researching can be exhausting.

When planning for scenes to write, also plan the kinds of research you will have to do to make that particular part of your project better or more interesting for the reader. When you have things more planned out it gives you more time and space to be creative and focus on the writing, and not the research.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What makes Sci-Fi ????

In my personal opinion Science Fiction is one of the most overdone and overlooked genres of any kind of storytelling. What different people perceive it as can be very drastic depending on the person telling the story.

It is one of those vague descriptions that can pretty much be interpreted in many ways. For one, are there certain guidelines to narrow the genre? I would like to think so, but isn't what is needed is just science and some fiction?

There are many "rules" for writing or story building in this particular genre; things that have to exist in order for that to be that particular genre. One would have to be the science aspect. Now this doesn't just mean like test tubes and quantum theories. I have noticed that a lot of Sci-fi stuff usually has the science either half or totally integrated within its world. Take "Star Trek" (thought I was gonna go with Star Wars, huh?) Star Trek is a classic example of Science Fiction. You have aspects of space travel, exploration, high technology(ie: Star Ships, deflector shields, phasors, etc) and you also have different worlds and aliens that populate the "realm" of Star Trek. What seems to be clear is that the science in Science Fiction has to be not only rooted in the world, but it has to be somewhat believable.

Now I know that beaming someone up from the surface of a planet to their command vessel is hardly believable, but what helps sell the idea is that the audience can associate the function of that type of beaming technology, and also the way the information is displayed to that set audience is cleverly designed.

It didn't take much for past audiences say in the 50's and 60's to suspend their disbelief to enjoy those things, but what troubles more modern writers in today's age of Science Fiction, is that the key audience has gotten smarter. This doesn't seem like a problem at first, I mean who really invests in Science Fiction other than nerds and geeks, right? Well what I have noticed is that back in the 50's and 60's there was this great unknown about much of what we call Science. There were tremendous leaps forward during that time which made people seem more accepting of the genre but not many people really knew what it all meant. Nowadays, you can have high school kids debunking things from past Star Trek episodes, when the show first aired, on the internet in like 6 seconds. I mean back then a portable hand help communications device was pretty hi-tech but now its called a cell phone.

The need to explore space say in the case of Star Trek was fitting because of the times. There was the cold war and the race to space mentality that was happening so much of that idea or concept was on a lot of people's minds at the time. Now going back to modern times...the audience is smarter and it is partly due to those writers of older science fiction. What people often overlook is the influence the genre has on actual science. I mean if it weren't for Star Trek displaying all those nifty gadgets, we as a science based people would not have the desire to make those technologies a possibility. Science Fiction has actually inspired many of what we consider today as modern marvels. It is kind of nice to see a genre that gives back to our fellow man.

So what writers today have to deal with is the way they display their material. Since the audiences are smarter, it takes a lot more to convince them of the ideas within the material itself. Writers are now becoming smarter as well to accommodate for their audience's growth in frontal lobe mass. This makes for more research and a lot more interesting topics.

All in all I feel that there is much more for the genre of Science Fiction for the future. At one time in history Sci-Fi influenced much of what actual real life science has to offer, and now the advancements in technology and science will push the boundaries of Science Fiction into the great vast beyond.

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Quarter!!

I have been on my spring break and it is Monday, the day we all go back to school to start a new quarter. I was pretty busy so I did not get a chance to work on my writings. It is hard at times to keep up with my art and my writing to post. I am happy however to get back in the swing of things and very excited to start work on my graduating portfolio. But, rest assured I will post new stuff soon!

PS If you guys have nay questions on any topics related to writing or just art or stories let me know and I will post some helpful stuff.